1. Revelation 21:23 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is the significance of the statement, “Its lamp is the Lamb”?

Revelation 21:23 (ESV)

23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

The term translated as lamp is the normal word for the light commonly lit at dusk to lighten the home (Mark 4:21). In the present passage, the lamp is not the typical oil-lamp but is the Lamb, that is, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:22). It is remarkable that the glory of God is so bright as to outshine the sun and the moon (and so make them superfluous), yet the fact that its lamp is the Lamb implies that this glory does not outshine the Lamb! During his earthly ministry, Jesus had said that he was the light of the world (John 8:12; John 1:4). Though the present passage is the only time in Scripture that Jesus is called a lamp, the connection with Jesus as the light is obvious. Jesus as the light has completed the task the Father had assigned him (even in the darkness of Calvary, Matthew 27:45) and so can be designated the source of light (lamp) in God’s New Jerusalem. His being the lamp does not mean he competes with the glory of God as a second source of light; instead, the Lamb is the glory of God personified, and so the city’s very own (its) source of light. Note: a lamp needs and belongs on a stand. Revelation 1:12–13 and Revelation 1:20 had called the seven churches lampstands. Christ is the lamp on the stands!

Perhaps it is worth noting what happens when such overwhelming light encounters jewels as jasper, sapphire, agate (Revelation 21:19–20), or meets with enormous pearls (Revelation 21:21) or buildings of pure gold, like clear glass (Revelation 21:18) or streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). The sheer display of colour in the reflections and refractions would magnify the beauty of the God who so obviously owns the place!